One of my least favourite verses in the Bible is “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NIV)
I dislike this verse because God has a way of revealing the same flawed character trait in me that I dislike in someone else! He will usually allow me to carry on ‘criticizing’ their trait for a few months, but then suddenly, He gives me this flash of insight into myself and I realise that I am guilty of the same flawed character trait. This has never been more highlighted in my life than with one of my daughters. She went through a season of sulking and her moods affected the atmosphere in our entire home.
She had a tendency to take everything that happened around her very personally and often perceived herself as being unloved and pushed aside by her friends and family. After listening to me complain about her attitude for the umpteenth time, my husband asked “Noel, who does she remind you of?” I could not think of anyone and then it slowly dawned on me, that he meant me! Through much of my life I had felt inferior and unnoticed by others and, when in a group of people, would literally feel that I did not exist, as nobody ever listened to me. I felt unloved by everyone. Thankfully, as I have grown in my relationship with God, I have slowly started to develop a better self-image!
One morning, I was sitting at my desk wanting to cry as I thought about what had happened the day before. I had allowed my daughter’s sulking, unpleasant behaviour and attitude to ruin my entire Sunday. Anger had taken root in me and my face had become blank and sullen. Every time she asked me a question or tried to communicate with me, I answered her in monosyllables or was sarcastic, feeling quite justified in behaving this way toward her because her behaviour was just not acceptable.
When my daughter asked me what was wrong, I snapped at her, “Nothing!”
Matthew 7:3 flashed before my eyes“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I was horrified to realize that I had been sulking. God revealed to me how my attitude changed when my children behaved in a manner that I disagreed with. I began to show the same traits that I disliked in my children, and even reprimanded them for their behaviour, even though I was behaving just as badly.
The poor child did not stand a chance. All she was doing was imitating the way she saw her mother behaving! How blind we are to our own behaviour patterns.
Carl Jung said: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”. I would have to agree.
The next time you are in conflict with your child, consider asking yourself the following questions before responding to their behaviour:
Is my child’s attitude a reflection of my own?
Am I allowing my child’s behaviour to affect my own behaviour negatively?
Does my child see God’s love and grace reflected in me?
I am so grateful that I worship a kind, gracious and forgiving God.
A God of infinite second chances!
As our Father and Refiner, His goal is to see Himself in us, His children. Let us make that our goal today—to see our reflection in our children—not our own poor attitudes or behaviours, but instead Christ in us, mirrored in them.